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The role of knowledge in a democratic society: Investigations into mediation and change-oriented learning in water management practices
Expanded Title:Executive Summary / Mapping of the Research Project Name of the project: Change Orientated Learning and Water Management Practices Key objectives of the research project: 1. Identify and support the skills that are needed to mediate learning about water management practices in an Eastern Cape community. For this project, the practice of rainwater harvesting will be used as an example. 2. Research the development of a knowledge resource that could be used to develop the capacity of community-based mediators of water knowledge. The resource will be developed in response to and in support of an existing community-based water management practice in the Eastern Cape: for this project, the practice of rainwater harvesting in the Cata area near Keiskammashoek. Type of research: Interdisciplinary educational research Starting points of the research project: This project emerged from two previous Water Research Commission (WRC) research projects. In 2006 Heila Lotz-Sisitka and Jane Burt (Lotz-Sisitka, 2006) undertook research on participation in the establishment of integrated water resources management (IWRM) structures. They found that while much emphasis had gone into the establishment of water resources management structures, very little attention was being given to building people’s capacity to participate effectively in these structures. Access to and the ability to make use of knowledge resources about water resources management is a key aspect of such capacity building. Burt and Robert Berold (2012) undertook a study on the use of knowledge and learning resources about water and its management and of how such resources were being used. They found that while many useful knowledge and learning resources were being produced, both within and on behalf of the water sector, not many people were consulting or using them. A clear finding of the study was therefore that more attention should be given to the mediation of knowledge about water and its management, with the aim of reaching a better understanding about how such knowledge is used and what makes it meaningful to people on the ground. Mediation of knowledge: Mediation of knowledge involves a process of interaction between people and learning resources so as to enhance the learning process. The process of mediation has socio-cultural and historical dimensions and involves language as well as the creation of meaning. To inform the research programme, the researchers drew on learning theories that support democratic participation in learning, and that can help to explain how mediation takes place within a learning process. Such theories are known as social-cultural or social learning theories. The theories helped explain how to link everyday knowledge and experience with new knowledge, which is often contained in the knowledge resources produced by institutions such as the WRC. Assumptions: The research programme assumes that there is a need to engage more critically with the assumptions (underlying and otherwise) that inform traditional approaches to the dissemination of knowledge within large-scale scientific institutions. The core assumption of the programme is that knowledge dissemination is not just a one-way process, but a two-way interaction, in which all parties involved in the interaction have to “make connections” between people’s everyday experiences and practices and new knowledge; and that this takes place via mediation. The research process and outcomes: The research process was framed within a 3-phase process (illustrated in Figure 1 below). The overall project (this is captured in Deliverable 2: Project Design) has the broad objective of enhancing democratic participation in water management practices at community level through learning and improved mediation and uptake of water management knowledge (as outlined in Paper 1). Each phase of the research project produced outcomes that were used to frame and inform the next phase.
Date Published:01/03/2014
Document Type:Research Report
Document Subjects:Water Resource Management/IWRM - Water Governance, R & D - Research capacity
Document Keywords:Society
Document Format:Report
Document File Type:pdf
Research Report Type:Standard
WRC Report No:2074/1/13
ISBN No:978-1-4312-0519-6
Authors:Burt J; Lotz-sisitka H; Rivers N; Berold R; Ntshudu M; Wigley T; Stanford M; Jenkin T; Buzani M; Kruger E
Project No:K5/2074
Organizations:Rhodes University
Document Size:5 529 KB
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